"mildred natwick in blithe spirit sees her reflection from candida in her mirror"

Published April 24, 1942


mildred natwick in blithe spirit sees her reflection from candida in her mirror. christian science monitor 4/24/42


Although perhaps better known for initiating the “Vessel with the Pestle” routine in the Danny Kaye film The Court Jester, Mildred Natwick’s first love was the theater. Her long career on Broadway stretched from 1932 to 1979.

In 1937, of her performance in Candida with Katharine Cornell, Brooks Atkinson wrote, “Mildred Natwick’s Prossy discloses the distinction she always brings to a part; there is neither a flat nor an overplayed moment in it.”

When Blithe Spirit opened on Broadway to rave reviews, the highest praise was reserved for Mildred Natwick. One critic wrote, “Mr. Coward’s Madame Arcati is no less fortunate than we are to have had Miss Natwick chosen as the player to summon her from the script. Miss Natwick, of course, is one of the most accomplished of our performers. No character actress in our theater equals her; few, if any, can be said to approach her. If she has never had the full recognition which is her due, her Madame Arcati is bound to bring this to her. It is a performance of inexhaustible humor, played with an admirable sense of control, and observed with an unfailing eye for valid details.” For her performance, Natwick won the Barter Theatre Award for the best performance of the year by an American-born actress. The award was presented at the Stage Door Canteen by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

In 1942, during the run of Blithe Spirit, the American Theater Wing presented matinee performances of Candida starring Katharine Cornell for the benefit of the Army Emergency Fund and the Navy Relief Society. In addition to playing eight performances a week in Blithe Spirit, Natwick played four additional matinees in Candida. In the New York World-Telegram, John Mason Brown wrote, “Mildred Natwick, who is so convulsing these nights as the medium in Blithe Spirit, is an even more hilarious Prossy than she first created in 1937. Hers is a superlative job; ludicrous without being overstrained, and as precise as it is uproarious.”

Mildred Natwick’s later years were spent in her apartment on Sutton Place on Manhattan’s East Side, although she delighted in traveling to London where she stayed at the Hyde Park Hotel, visiting friends and attending theater. She was a dedicated volunteer at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, where she could be seen annually working at the “Connoisseur’s Corner” section of the Library’s Giant Bazaar.

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